By Dylan J. Darling
The Sisters Ranger District is going ahead with plans for one paved path near Sisters, while scrapping plans for another.
Planning is close to complete for a $1.8 million, 7.6-mile path linking Sisters to the Tollgate subdivision and Black Butte Ranch. Plans for a shorter, but similar, $1 million path connecting Sisters and the Crossroads subdivision, once approved by the district, are now off the table.
“I decided that they weren’t ready for a trail in their community,” Kristie Miller, Sisters District ranger for the Forest Service, said last week.
Miller approved the plan for the 1.1-mile Crossroads path in 2012 before hearing complaints from subdivision residents that they hadn’t been involved. She reopened comments on the plan late last year and a survey showed residents were split on a possible path. A third supported the path plan, a third wanted a path but in a different spot and a third didn’t want a path at all.
Joanne Anttila, chairwoman of the Crossroads Property Owners Association, said the planned path as initially approved by the district would have brought people close to homes in the subdivision.
Residents raised concerns about privacy during a November field trip with Miller, in which they hiked the planned route of the path.
“I’m thankful that she is respecting the private property and the survey results,” Anttila said of Miller’s decision not to build the trail.
But Anttila is among the group who’d like to see the U.S. Forest Service put in a path between Sisters and Crossroads. In particular, she wants a path running along state Highway 242.
Miller said the district doesn’t have any plans to design a new trail between Sisters and Crossroads.
People living in Black Butte Ranch support the idea of a trail running from there to Sisters, said Miller and Scott Huntsman, president of the Black Butte Ranch Corporation, which manages the private community. He said the board of directors for the Black Butte Homeowners Association voted last November to support the trail.
“By and large, Black Butte Ranch is in support of (the trail),” he said.
But there are some people living in Black Butte Ranch and the Tollgate subdivision with questions and concerns about the plan.
“I think there needs to be further negotiation about trail location,” said Susie Werts, who lives in Tollgate. She said she thinks the planned trail should be moved closer to U.S. Highway 20.
The trail would then be farther away from homes in Tollgate and make for safer conditions for deer. As designed, Werts said the trail would have a brushy patch between the trail and highway, where deer could linger instead of being spooked by trail users into highway traffic.
The district’s plan for the Black Butte paved path is subject to objection until mid-August by people who commented on earlier rounds of the plans.
Even if approved, there are no immediate plans to start building the trail.
“It is going to be dependent on when a grant can be obtained,” Miller said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7812, firstname.lastname@example.org